Matty's Obedience Training Finalised.
It was time to go back to Matty and see how his training is going. Her owner already has a shock collar and has been using it to reinforce certain behaviors. We tried a fun training process before where Maui acted like a model or rival of sorts, where Maui would follow a basic command I gave and got a treat, and Matty had to do the same thing in order to get a treat. I found that it's a great way to teach dogs complicated tricks quickly, and at the same time provide some mental stimulation. I think dogs love figuring things out, especially when they are in a positive, reward-based training environment and the reward is their favorite treat.
Matty's owner was dialing down on the basic training. Teaching Matty to approach when called, sit on command, and go back to his room when told to do so. When Maui and I went inside, Matty was already scratching on the glass door. I didn't hear her owner say anything, but he suddenly sat down and looked behind him expectantly. if that was his owner telling him to sit, then the basic obedience training is going well.
The idea today was to both train Maui and Matty with their obedience training to take advantage of that model-rivalry training method. We can do the other stuff like retrieval another time, but for the time being, we're going to solidify his obedience skills and use this time for both of them to have some fun. It's a lot like taking my daughter to play dates, except it's my dog.
I've lost track of how long Matty's training had been. So far though, it looks like he's better behaved. I still remember the first time I met Matty. He would not stop jumping on me and licking my hands until his owner pulled him away. He would still run and greet me, but he sits down instead. That's one bad behavior down, and if this goes on, he might become more disciplined than Maui. Maybe the fact that Matty is a month of age younger than Maui is a factor.
After the two boys were done playing around, we started the training, with Maui on his shock collar, we went through the basics. First was "Sit" where Maui would sit properly the moment I said so, and after two tries, Matty did as well. Both were rewarded accordingly, and we kept going 10 more times. I can already tell that Maui is responding faster because it usually takes two seconds or so before he follows a command like sit. This is probably because Matty acts faster and Maui probably has slight F.O.M.O about the treats.
Both of them also light up whenever they hear the clicker. I'd say clicker training is very effective once a dog associates the sound with rewards. It's also a consistent sound that's loud enough to be heard even from afar. I'd say if anyone wants to give their dog proper training, they should at least get a clicker. That or hire a professional dog trainer. The only reason why I'm training Matty is that we don't have any experienced trainers that do house calls. The only one is a good half an hour away from here and requires you to leave the dog there for the afternoon. It would be great if I had other business I can take care of while I was there, but it would be both tedious and expensive to take Maui there for their weekly programs.
We then moved the training to "sit and stay" for more than 5 seconds. The two dogs were okay just sitting when I'm not moving, but the moment my feet moves one step backward, Matty steps forward and Maui follows as well. I stepped back again and they did the same thing. I thought it was absolutely adorable so I kept stepping back and both dogs would also step forward and sit back again.
I had my fun, so I restarted the training and when I said stay again, I insisted on the command as I stepped back. It looked like Matty put so much effort into just staying still. Maui on the other hand stood still so much that his tail stopped wagging. I kept repeating the simple command at every step, but Matty succumbed and stepped forward. I had to keep the rivalry thing going, so I kept saying stay again for one more second, then clicked and only tossed the reward on Maui.
In the next round, it looked like Matty learned his lesson and was staying with Maui. I managed to get a good distance away from them before rewarding them. From the way this is going, I think this joint training also helps rid of bad habits or other unwanted behavior since Matty is learning not because of conditioning, but because he saw that another dog was rewarded instead of him. This kind of natural instinct to mimic other dogs must run deep in them because Matty learned so fast, especially when I tried to teach him to grab objects alongside Maui.
If all that Matty needed to learn was basic obedience skills, then I think he's already in a good spot. All that's left is for Matty to have these skills reinforced every now and then. I'm sure he'll have a better life now because there will be less friction between him and his owner, and that's what all pet parents strive for when caring for their fur babies.
We concluded the training and let Maui and Matty play again. Matty really likes to initiate the play as he does this body language where he slams both front paws on the ground with a "downward dog" pose. When he does this, Maui does a funny-looking twisted back-hop and they start running around. Sometimes, Matty would take the toy rope and they would play an intense tug of war. It makes me wonder if I should get another dog to keep Maui entertained like this.
This also concluded my training visits with Matty, though I was encouraged to still visit every now and then so that Matty can play with Maui. They could visit my house too, but I'm not sure how well Matty would get along with the three feline rulers of the yard.
Now I can really focus on teaching Maui to grab stuff on command. If I can get him to master this, it's going to be so cool. I can already imagine how cool it would be, but until I and Maui can pour in the work, it will remain in my imagination.